Oct. 17, 2000
BERKELEY, CA - By Tim Haran
As only one of two seniors on a volleyball team filled with primarily freshmen and sophomores, Alicia Perry admits she feels a little motherly toward Cal's younger players. Her teammates call it leadership.
"Alicia is our leader," says sophomore outside hitter Reena Pardiwala. "I think we'd be lost without her because she does so much to motivate us."
She motivates by example. Perry is after all, one of Cal's all-time greatest hitters. Following the Bears' win versus the College of William & Mary on Oct. 13, Perry ranks fifth on the Bears' all-time kills list with 1187 and 10th in digs with 991. She needs just nine more digs to be the fourth player in Cal history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
The 5-foot-9 outside hitter demoralizes defenses by firing kills through blocks or by gently tapping a ball over a blocker's fingertips. Perry turns points thought lost into points won with her amazing court presence and miraculous digs.
"She's carrying a big load for us," Cal Coach Rich Feller says. "Alicia's an anchor to our blocking scheme, she's a primary passer and excellent hitter. She's stepped up to be a leader this season."
At age 13, the Lakewood, Calif. native decided she had too much free time on her hands. To keep herself busy, Perry turned to volleyball. She began playing in club leagues while diverting some attention to softball and basketball, but during high school the talented athlete narrowed her focus to volleyball.
Perry chose Cal primarily for academics, but after meeting with the volleyball team as a recruit, the high school standout definitely knew she'd be leaving sunny southern California for the green hills and cultural opportunities of Berkeley.
"I knew I'd get a great education here," the social welfare major says, "but when I came to Cal on a recruiting trip, I enjoyed all the girls on the team and knew that we'd mesh well."
The three-time all-league selection in high school didn't waste any time proving herself as a Golden Bear. While a redshirt freshman, Perry ranked second on the team in kill and dig averages and recorded five double-doubles on the year.
Then Perry caught fire.
In her sophomore year, she led Cal in team kills and digs, including an amazing 24-dig effort against UC Santa Barbara. Perry's junior year saw more of the same, including leading the Bears in kills. She also recorded back-to-back triple doubles, which garnered her Pac-10 Player of the Week honors.
But the best was yet to come.
Midway through the 2000 season Perry is performing at a level some thought impossible considering an injury she suffered during her senior year in high school.
During a 1996 match Perry broke her left leg-a compound fracture that was thought at the time to be merely a stress fracture. "I didn't get X-rays and kept playing on it," she says. "It turned out to be a compound fracture and I couldn't play for a year."
After recovering from an injury that would end other players' careers, Perry remains first among active Pac-10 players in career digs and third in career kills.
And it appears she's only getting better.
In what Perry calls two of her best matches ever, Cal defeated the University of Washington and Washington State University on Oct. 6-7. Against UW, Perry posted 26 kills and added a career-high 30 digs en route to Cal's 3-1 victory over the Huskies. She wasn't finished. The next night Perry recorded another 18 kills and tabbed 14 digs in the Bears' 3-0 sweep of the Cougars.
"This is definitely one of my best seasons," Perry says. "I've been able to come out from game to game and compete at a high level."
Her teammates agree. "She's one of the greatest hitters in the Pac-10, easily," Pardiwala says. "She's amazing."
Perry was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the second time in her career following her performance against UW and WSU.
"There have only been 13 Pac-10 Players of the Week for our team and being one of those players is exciting for me," Perry says. "I can't believe I've gotten this far, it's really amazing."
As for being one of Cal's all-time volleyball greats, Perry says humbly, "It's nice. You don't want it to be your major goal, but when it happens it's really a neat feeling. It makes me happy to be up there with all the school's great players."